Pisgah’s Sight and Moses’ Death
In Deuteronomy 34 we read about Moses’ vision of the Promised Land from the “top of Pisgah” and his death and burial by the hand of God on Mt. Nebo. Moses’ death upon this mountain was by the express purpose of God to teach us very important spiritual lessons.
We are told that when Moses stood on Mt. Pisgah and looked over Canaan’s Promised Land, he surveyed the whole land (Deuteronomy 34:1-4). We are expressly told that he saw all the land of Gilead unto Dan, and all the land of Naphtali and Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah unto the uttermost sea, together with the south and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. That was some vision!
If you care to take some measurements by an atlas, you will find that with one view, from one spot, Moses clearly saw at least 60 miles in one direction and 120 miles in the other, taking in all the Land of Promise. That would be impossible for any man, except by supernatural, divine assistance. Therefore, we read, — “I have caused thee to see [it] with thine eyes.”
That is the way it is with all spiritual things and all spiritual sight. Everything we know and see by faith we know and see by divine revelation, with eyes of faith that see eternal things. Our dear Savor is to the eye of faith precious and lovely, gracious and glorious; but to the carnal eye, “there is no beauty that we should desire him.”
Then, after taking in all the Land of Promise, after surveying the fulfilment of all God’s covenant promises, Moses died (Deuteronomy 34:8-9). Moses could not bring Israel into the possession of God’s covenant promises. Here is a picture of the law’s death. Yes, I meant to say the law’s death. If we are “dead to the law,” as God in his Word declares we are (Romans 7:4; Galatians 2:19), the law is dead to us. Moses died on Mt. Nebo, but Joshua lived. So it is spiritually: Moses is dead; but the Lord Jesus Christ, our great Joshua, lives! Five things are stated in Deuteronomy 34:8-9 by which God the Holy Spirit gives us a picture of our complete freedom from the law of Moses in Christ our Savior, who “is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”
1. Moses (the law) died, having fulfilled his appointed service.
Moses was 120 years old as full of health and strength when he died, as he was when he was twenty-five years old. And the law, retaining all its strength, being fulfilled by Christ, was nailed to the tree and slain by our Savior (Colossians 2:14). As God buried Moses in Mt. Nebo and all hell cannot dig up his body, so
Christ nailed the law to his cross, taking it out of the way forever, and though Satan constantly seeks to raise it up, Michael the Archangel (our blessed Lord Jesus) stands by his finished work and pours out his grace and righteousness in the full forgiveness of sin upon his chosen (Jude 9; Zechariah 3:1-9).
2. The children of Israel wept for Moses and mourned.
So the natural man weeps and mourns for the dead letter of the law, ever clinging to it, always desiring to make himself righteous by the vain delusion law obedience. All lost men and women seek to make themselves righteous. And all who seek to make themselves righteous by their works are lost. While boasting of their obedience to the law, their religion makes them miserable.
3. Joshua was full of the Spirit and wisdom of God.
And Christ Jesus, our Joshua, is full of the Spirit of God and is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. All the fulness of grace and all the promises of God are in him and are ours in him.
4. Moses laid his hands on Joshua, fully approving of him.
So the holy law of God approves of, is fulfilled, and is fully satisfied with Christ. He magnified the law and made it honorable by his obedience in life and his obedience in death as our God-man Mediator and covenant Surety.
5. With Joshua as their head, the children of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses.
If you read the book of Joshua, you will see that Israel no more obeyed Joshua than they did Moses. In fact, Joshua said to them, “Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he [is] an holy God; he [is] a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins” (Joshua 24:19). Yet, we are told by God the Holy Spirit that “the children of Israel hearkened unto Joshua, and did as the Lord commanded Moses” (Deuteronomy 34:9). Obviously, there was a sense in which they did obey God. — Under Joshua’s lead, with Joshua at their head, they entered into, conquered, and possessed all the Land of Promise; and the Lord God fulfilled to them all the covenant promises he made to Abraham (Joshua 23:24).
What a blessed picture of grace! With Christ as our Head, our Mediator, our Representative, our covenant Surety, all God’s elect have fulfilled all that God commanded by the law. Our Savior’s obedience to the law all the days of his life was our obedience. His death under the penalty of the law was our death. And now, in him, by the merit of his blood and righteousness, every believer is made an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ himself. All the blessings of God’s covenant are sealed to every chosen, redeemed sinner by God the Holy Spirit with the gift of faith in Christ. Thus grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
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